It is amazing what we, as human beings, can adapt to. The fact that I can now look down at the six-inch scar across my chest and the five inch gash under my arm without revulsion is truly amazing.
One month ago I would not change my clothes in the same room that housed a mirror let alone chance a glimpse of my torso as I stepped from the shower. Now I look at myself boldly with curiosity and imagine how the final product will appear. I have adapted to my changed body image.
One month ago I couldn’t raise my arm above my waist; now I can reach above my head. There are full hours when I actually forget that I cannot pull the pans out from under the cabinet or do any pushups. I have changed my exercise routine to accommodate my weaker side and I compensate with my strong arm for tasks that are impossible. I have adapted to my physical changes.
These changes that seemed unthinkable to me, unfathomable in how they would change my life for the worse are now a part of who I will become. We may hate change. We may fight it with every fiber in our bodies and when faced with it plant our feet firmly into the earth and say “NO”, but I have learned that ultimately we have no choice in many things; so we must adapt.
Partially what has helped in my acceptance of my new body is time; but the real reason is that now my mind is completely engrossed in the new phase in my treatment –chemotherapy. I can’t think about my breast because I am too busy trying not to throw up. Don’t let anyone tell you different — chemo sucks. Today is the first day since treatment (7 days ago) that I feel somewhat ok. But I have even adapted to being nauseas. Today is a day without drugs so that is better then two days ago. I have adjusted my normal. Seven days of feeling icky, I can adjust to that — as long as I know it will be like that every time I have an infusion. Seven days feeling like shit are fine but then I need to know that the next 14 (until the next infusion) will be ok. I don’t know this. But I hope this. I won’t know until it is all over so what I will do is adapt to where I am in my life right now. I will take the good days, go running, go shopping, go biking, whatever makes me feel normal. It’s the old adage of taking “one day at a time” –and it has never been clearer to me.
Chemotherapy infusion is a sensory onslaught. It’s the sweet sticky smell of the cold crimson poison coursed through your veins, warm icepacks on the infusion sight,dry mouth, metallic tasting water that doesn’t quench your thirst,queasy stomach; close your eyes, try to listen to music, the salty taste as you swallow your tears…snap,crackle,pop….. it’s all there…then it’s done. You go home and take massive amounts of anti-nausea medicine. Some make your heart race some put you to sleep, some make you cry, but they are all supposed to make your stomach not jump around. For me they didn’t work so well.
But today I feel better. So I have today.
A friend wrote recently and asked me a question. She was taking a survey for a class and asked me to finish this sentence: “Intelligence is….” . My answer, which came quite quickly in the light of how my life is going right now, was this: “Intelligence is…knowing when to ask for help.”
To you, all of my friends, I thank you for making me so very wicked smart!